New Utah Bill Will Make Underage Marriage Illegal

State Representative Angela Romero, a Democrat from Salt Lake City, announced her intention to introduce legislation banning anyone from marriage before the age of 18. The current state law allows 15-year-olds to marry with a juvenile court judge’s consent and parental permission, while 16 and 17-year-olds can marry with their parents’ permission. But if this bill gets passed, it will make it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to get married regardless of court or parental consent.

The reason for the law? Romero said she was doing it to help safeguard the state’s youth from sexual abuse. In an interview Romero states “Most of these people are young women and so my concern is about protecting them, protecting their innocence and allowing them to be children.” She feels that the legal age of being an adult is 18 so that should also be the age that people are free to marry.

Child-bride marriages have been the center point of a lot of legislation and prosecution in Utah. LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child sex assault related to marriages with girls. Other members of his church have been convicted of charges in Utah related to underage marriages.

Rep. Romero said she wants those who decide to marry are informed and ready.

“I want to make sure that when they make the decision to commit to marriage that they’re full aware of what they’re doing and it’s their choice,” she said. “Not their parent’s choice or an adult man’s choice. Their choice.”

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